I had to laugh a bit when I wrote the title of this post because 2 months ago I had no idea what either “cholestasis” or “scheduled induction” meant. Chalk that up to one of the many new things I have learned being a first-time parent.
If you are reading this, I am guessing you too either have (or your partner has) cholestasis or a scheduled induction and are looking for more information on what to expect. I am by no means a doctor or WebMD so I won’t be giving you any statistics or definitions. But, I will tell you my wife and I’s story and maybe it will help you put your mind at ease and lay off the Google search bar for a bit.
First Things First
First, congratulations on your pregnancy! As a couple that tried hard to get pregnant for a year, I soon realized that for many people it doesn’t happen on the first try (or second, third, fourth….). This was the first time my wife and I got a positive test and I remember being in this weird state of excitement but also paranoia. Like, if we spoke about it or got too excited we might somehow lose the pregnancy.
As a guy, not a whole lot changes, to be honest. You start to plan and be as supportive as possible but really your partner is going through all the “hard work”. My advice is just to be supportive and always ask “what can I do to help”… because the moment you stop being helpful, it is not good.
Even by my wife’s own admission, we had a really easy pregnancy through the first 7 months. So easy, in fact, that you start to worry it was going a little too easy. Well, we were right.
One night my wife just became super itchy out of nowhere. Not just dry skin itchy, but like she just rolled around in poison ivy itchy. It was pretty bad on her hands and feet to the point where she couldn’t sleep and was miserable. I can’t stress enough that if you feel this way, go see the doctor and get a blood test.
We found out that my wife’s liver enzymes and bile were elevated and she was diagnosed with Cholestasis. I remember the doctor telling us the diagnosis and both of us being very concerned for a moment and then being like “what the heck is cholestasis?”.
We were told that basically, it is a build up of bile in the blood that makes the mother really itchy and that there is a slight risk of stillbirth so she would have to be monitored bi-weekly. In other words, if you weren’t uncomfortable and anxious enough than this will get you there.
Monitoring a Mother with Cholestasis
The really crappy thing about cholestasis is that the medical community doesn’t know what causes it. I remember my wife beating herself up thinking she did something wrong but just remember you didn’t do anything wrong. Sometimes things just happen and we don’t know why but the good news is that if you catch it, monitoring goes a long way to ensuring a successful birth.
When it comes to monitoring, you will most likely be given a weekly or bi-weekly non-stress test and then an ultrasound. To be honest, I looked forward to these test because I could hear my baby and see her doing well. It was also a great bonding experience with my wife to just sit together and listen to your child. My advice to all the partners out there… Go to these monitoring appointments and support the mother! No one should have to do this on there own.
After the 3rd NST and ultrasound we got the routine down and so did our child. She would almost always get her heart rate elevated multiple time during the non-stress test right away and then move a bunch and do some practice breathing during the ultrasound. I think she hates the doctor’s office as much as I do and wanted to get out of there.
Side note: if you want to monitor the baby at home, we bought this baby heartbeat monitor from Amazon that worked amazingly for listening to our baby’s heart anytime we wanted. Link below.
If you have cholestasis, you have probably had a discussion with your doctor about induction. Basically, the longer the baby stays in the mother, the greater the risk of stillbirth so they like to take them out as soon as it is safe. We were told that we should schedule an induction date on 37 weeks exactly… Not 37 and a couple days, not 38… 37 weeks on the day. And, to be honest, you will most likely want to get your child out as soon as possible too if it is safe. Otherwise, you will just be more stressed and anxious knowing the risk is greater the longer they stay in.
Inducing birth can vary greatly from person to person so I can only speak on our experience. We got to the hospital around 5 pm and were told to get comfy because first-time mothers take a while typically. We were told it would probably be at least 2 days.
They started with a cervical ripening drug (I can’t remember) every 4 hours. Again, my job was basically to watch and be supportive (and set up Netflix on our tablet). To be honest, a whole lot of another happened in the first 24 hours… no dilation and no really bad contractions. It can be tough not to get frustrated with how slow things go but just wait, things pick up fast!
about 3 am the second night my wife’s water broke and in the next 6 hours she dilated from 1cm to 6cm and she was going through hell. We ended up getting the epidural and she became so relaxed that we had to wake her up to start pushing lol.
Now, I thought that “pushing” only took like 10 minutes and the baby was out. No, no, no… pushing took 2 hours (which I was told is pretty common for first-time moms). But, finally, our child was born. Healthy and happy.
Get Some Sleep
I get it, cholestasis is a scary thing to be diagnosed with and you want to read anything that will comfort you. But, I would advise you stop searching the deep dark forums on the internet and get some sleep. You did the most important thing in diagnosing it and now you will be able to monitor it closely and if anything doesn’t look right there are options to get your baby out healthy.
Hopefully, our story puts your mind at ease as thousands of mothers who have cholestasis have healthy babies every year. Now shut off your device and put your mind at ease. 🙂